Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What Time Is It, Exactly?

General Odierno comments that staying in Iraq after 2011 would have helped keep sectarian tensions in check which could have prevented the regeneration of jihadis in Iraq and the rise of ISIL, and that this reasoning applies to Afghanistan, too:

Absolutely, I believe it is. I believe it is important -- I don't mean -- the reason, everybody says why can't we do what we did in Germany, Korea, Japan? Everybody tells me that all the time. Well, because we kept people there for a very long periods of time. You know, we are still in Europe 70 years later, we're still in Japan 70 years later. Now, we are much smaller and it's a much different relationship. But that is how you help to establish long-standing institutions.

Now, I'm not trying to compare Germany, or Japan, or Korea to the Middle East. It's a different environment. So, I'm not saying it's exactly the same, don't get me wrong. But I would say is having a there helps to establish an institution that is capable of being more sustainable and more -- lasting for a much longer time.

Why couldn't we do in Iraq and Afghanistan what we did in Germany, Japan, Italy, and South Korea? Isn't sustaining new allies that we suffered to create worth it in the long run?

Would it really have been better to leave and allow them to return to their historic patterns of governance and/or foreign policy? It took a lot of time, but it prevented enemies from regenerating where our armies once stood triumphant.

And yes, the modern-day Middle East is different than any of these countries today.

But the point is that all of those countries are way better than they were when our occupations began.

Compare South Korea between 1955 and today; or Japan, Germany, and Italy of 1945 versus what they are now. All are modern, Western-style democracies when they were poor, wrecked by war, and/or plagued by authoritarian histories.

Of course, we stayed in those countries not because we wanted to make them advanced democracies, but because we had to stay to protect them from external communist threats. The democracy came as a side benefit to the military security we provided.

Pity we didn't see a potential enemy that would have justified staying in Iraq after 2011.

Instead, we extended our hand to the Iranian mullahs who stomped down protesters because we were determined to see a potential friend rather than an actual enemy in mullah-run Iran.

And while I'm at it, I hate it when people say it is wrong to compare this nuclear deal with Iran to Munich because Iran is too weak to be likened to Nazi Germany.

These people have a point. But I would also like to point out that the Nazi Germany of 1938 was far weaker than the Nazi Germany of 1942 that occupied large portions of Europe--or even 1940, for that matter, when Germany stomped on France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, and Norway--and sent Britain reeling from the continent.

Nazi Germany of 1938 was weak. And giving them time didn't make them nicer. It made them stronger.

Letting enemies get stronger is rarely a good idea.

UPDATE: Does the Iran nuclear deal signal that America is abandoning Iraq--or whatever the Shias can hold--to Iranian dominance?

The U.S. would like to defeat Islamic State, and we assume Iran would, too. The big change, however, is that the U.S. may no longer be as committed to a multi-denominational, unified Iraq as a buffer against Iran. That’s the result of a regional change – brought about by the nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran.

Our leadership is that dense, so I don't rule out the possibility that we'd negotiate away a battlefield victory (both in 2008 and a new one against ISIL in Iraq one day).

I've commended the Obama administration for at least wanting to intervene in Iraq to restore what we gained in Iraq at such a cost. I may have been hasty.

I have to consider that it might not be enough to finally lose the "bad" war--we want to make sure our new Iranian "partners" win.

Let's hope the author's speculation is wrong.